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I have been trying to create a sensor that detects when a golf club hits a golf ball. My idea was to have a lidar sensor to continuously poll the head of the golf club, and return a positive indication when the distance has changed significantly. To do this, I use the VL50l0X. However, as I get further away from the golf club (>15cm only), the lidar stops sensing where the head is, returns an out of range signal. I have tried different range profiles but the same error is returned.

It is connected to the 3v3 output on an arduino uno, using the example code provided by adafruit.

I believe this may be due to the fact that the golf club is angled away from the lidar (about 70 degrees), as, when I substitute the golf club head for a flat surface, it works as intended. I would like to ask if there are different sensors I can look at to this application, or some other way to approach this problem. I was advised that a shock sensor would not be the best idea due to the time difference between the golf club hitting the ball and the sensor.

Link to VL53l0X datasheet

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  • $\begingroup$ You can't make the golf club face more diffuse? $\endgroup$
    – DKNguyen
    Feb 22 at 16:38
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for replying! Not in particular because the problem statement was to use commercially available products. However would this be done by polishing the face in some way? $\endgroup$
    – vernal123
    Feb 22 at 16:41
  • $\begingroup$ Not polishing. The opposite: roughing up a bit. Like 600+ grit sandpaper but I don't know if that is acceptable. Try just masking tape first though to verify that is the problem. Or maybe a marker or dull pain that can be easily removed if the face doesn't have grooves. $\endgroup$
    – DKNguyen
    Feb 22 at 16:41
  • $\begingroup$ I will try that thanks! Off the topic but do you know other sensors that could solve this issue too? $\endgroup$
    – vernal123
    Feb 22 at 16:44
  • $\begingroup$ Ultrasonic....maybe? But affected by more environmental stuff and lower sample rate. Oh yeah, plastic-type materials are often transparent to your your IR beam is transparent so some paints or tape might not work. $\endgroup$
    – DKNguyen
    Feb 22 at 16:44

2 Answers 2

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Just use a microphone. There is a fairly loud, distinctive sound when the club hits the ball.

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  • $\begingroup$ thanks for your reply! how would I distinguish it from the wind gushing into the microphone for example? $\endgroup$
    – vernal123
    Feb 22 at 17:20
  • $\begingroup$ @vernal123 Duration, and rate of change of amplitude, perhaps. Wind goes up and down while a golf hit is very sudden. Even the shortest wind gust probably doesn't get as loud as a golf hit, and the loudest ones won't be that short. You could also try shielding the microphone from the wind in which case volume alone might be good enough. Alternatively, you could also consider using an accelerometer attached to the golf club. $\endgroup$
    – user253751
    Feb 22 at 18:19
  • $\begingroup$ Google "microphone windscreen" $\endgroup$ Feb 22 at 20:46
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Try using a retroreflector to return the lidar signal back to the origin, or maybe a matt textured white paint would be sufficient.

With regard to a shock sensor, a simple piezoelectric device would should have a quite short (and predictable) response time, for example some sensors are under 100 microseconds.

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